This Week in Conservative Media: Obama Sits on the Afghan Fence

“That was such a strange speech,” writes Victor Davis Hanson for the National Review’s The Corner. Like many other conservative writers he’s perplexed that Obama would offer more troops and a timeline for departure in basically the same breath. He’s not alone—many are wondering about what are certainly mixed messages, not just in conservative media. “I am happy that for another 18 months, Obama will fight the Taliban,” writes Hanson. “But I think that, in times of war, when troops are headed into battle, Americans would rather hear "smoke 'em out" and "dead or alive" than a Nobel Peace Prize preamble.”

Sarah Palin weighed in from her Facebook page, echoing many conservatives happy that Obama is sending in troops but worrying about the lack of saber rattling required to intimidate the Taliban. “We should be in Afghanistan to win, not to set a timetable for withdrawal that signals a lack of resolve to our friends, and lets our enemies believe they can wait us out. As long as we’re in to win, and as long as troop-level decisions are based on conditions on the ground and the advice of our military commanders, I support President Obama’s decision.” 

That level of rather surprising support was certainly lacking when Fox News’s Sean Hannity took Obama to task for dithering on Afghanistan, with a video montage of clips dating back to last year of Obama calling for more troops but then backpedaling once in office. Left-wing watchdog group Media Matters took on Hannity’s montage with a collection of reports detailing how Hannity is ignoring previous troop increases earlier this year and accused him of editing out facts that don’t support his argument.  

Ed Morrissey of joins the echo chamber in praising Obama for the troop increase but writes that the numbers are simply too low to accomplish the task. In other posts he adds: “No one will cooperate with American troops if they know we’re bugging out in 18 months. They’re going to decide to cut the best deals they can with the Taliban, who will simply decide to outlast us.” The main problem, according to most conservatives: no chutzpah. Morrissey also blogs: "But what exactly is the purpose of the escalation? There was no sense of purpose in the speech, no grand sense of mission, save one: getting out. Obama never once mentioned 'victory' in the address, nor attempt to define (or even redefine) what he wanted for an outcome. He talked about human rights but never mentioned 'democracy,' except its symbols in Washington and our attempt to bolster it … in Pakistan. In fact, he mentioned 'Vietnam' four times." Most importantly, say conservatives, the word “win” didn’t show up once.